As you know, I’m very bullish on hydrogen. So, I’m always following the sector very closely. Last week, I participated in the digital conference “E-Mobility with Hydrogen and Fuel Cell.” It was a very insightful event.
All speakers came to the same conclusion. If Germany wants to master the energy transition successfully, we have to be open to all technologies. Readers in the United States and Canada might hear a similar sentiment. This fundamental conclusion sounds self-evident, but a look at the media shows a different picture.
For example, top managers at Tesla (TSLA) or Volkswagen (VWAGY) “demonize” hydrogen technology. VW CEO Herbert Diess recently tweeted that hydrogen-fueled cars are not the climate solution. He argued that electrification has prevailed in transport. Bogus debates are a waste of time, Diess continued.
I recently told my readers that BMW (BMWYY) is doing a great deal with hydrogen. BMW plans to test the second generation of the fuel cell drive in a small series starting next year. BMW announced this during a visit from German Economics Minister Peter Altmeier to the company’s hydrogen competence center. The firm’s CEO, Oliver Zipse, unlike VW CEO Diess, has always been open to different technology. He emphasized the advantages of hydrogen.
However, the general conditions are essential. Depending on how the framework conditions develop, hydrogen fuel cell technology can become another pillar in the BMW Group’s drive portfolio, Zipse said.
Daimler Has a Long Hydrogen History
One of the other significant takeaways centered around Daimler (DMLRY). BMW’s competitor Daimler has been working on hydrogen for several decades. Professor Dr. Christian Mohrdieck, managing director of Cellcentric GmbH & Co. KG (a joint venture of the truck manufacturers Daimler and Volvo), highlighted the firm’s commitment to hydrogen.
During his presentation, Mohrdieck showed that Daimler’s hydrogen activities started more than 25 years ago. Daimler formed its first fuel cell alliance with the Canadian company Ballard Power back in 1996.
Then, last year, all fuel cell and hydrogen competencies in the Daimler Group were bundled in one company – Daimler Truck Fuel Cell. This was followed by the hydrogen and fuel cell alliance between Daimler and Volvo called Cellcentric.
In the vehicle sector, hydrogen’s greatest technological advantage is likely to be in commercial vehicles (buses and trucks). However, the example of BMW shows you that hydrogen and fuel cell technology is also being used in the premium passenger car segment.
I bring this up because EV continues to generate the bulk of the headlines. But the potential for hydrogen-based transport is massive. I remain bullish on hydrogen because I think it will sneak up on the global transportation industry by helping reduce emissions and the damage to the ecosystem that is brought on by mining for rare-earth metals needed in the EV sector.